Date Original

1944 June 17


Letter to Hazel Retherford at Rohwer Relocation Center from Natsuni Tomita, who had recently moved from Rohwer Relocation Center to Jerome Relocation Center.

Biographical/Historical Note

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9022, creating the War Relocation Authority (WRA). The WRA selected ten sites in which to imprison more than 110,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, over two-thirds of whom were American citizens. Two of these centers were in the Arkansas Delta, one at Rohwer in Desha County, and the other at Jerome in sections of Chicot and Drew counties. Over 16,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in these two centers between October 1942 and November 1945. Hazel Linam Retherford was born on January 27, 1906. During World War II, she was a teacher at both the Jerome and Rohwer Japanese relocation centers in Arkansas, eventually helping to close both centers. She later went to Washington, District of Columbia, to complete War Relocation Authority records on the camps.


Rohwer, Ark.
June 17, 1944
Dearest Mrs. Retherford,
I reached Rohwer safely.
I was going to write to you
as soon as I got there but
my letter box was packed.
We reached there about 11:
30. We got there before our
baggage so we had
to wait for a while.
On the way I was think-
ing "when did I see this road" before
after I saw the station
where we stopped to eat
on the way to Hot Springs I
knew that
we were on the same
road as when we were on the
way to visit Vannette. We
crossed the bridge on which
you told us was the way to
The center is very much
different from Denson. I
am sure I will get
Block eleven is a pretty
block. We have colorful
gardens because they have
of different colors.
We have a garden made
in the front of our
ment. The people are
very nice to us.
(turn over)

Well I better close
now, and will you tell
Vanette Hello for me?
(Don't mind the way I
print or misspell the
Sincerely yours,
Natsumi Tomita
Answer me soon
so I won't be lonesome.
I am the only one in block
from 28 in Denson so I
am lonesome.

My address
Rohwer W.R.A.
Mcgee [sic], Arkansas
I don't know how to spel [sic]
Mcgee and my sister
won't tell
me because
she is in a bad mood
Rohwer, Ark. Mrs. Hazel L. Retherford
Jerome W.R.A.
Denson, Arkansas

Physical Description

Letter, 8.5" x 11"


Evacuation of civilians; Military assistance; Military camps; Camps; War; Japanese; Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945; World War, 1939-1945--Concentration Camps--United States--Arkansas; Internment camps; Relocation camps; Rohwer Relocation Center (Ark.)


Tomita, Natsuni

Geographical Area

Jerome, Drew County (Ark.); Rohwer, Desha County (Ark.)




MS.000643, Box 1, Folder 1, Item 10

Resource Type



Hazel Retherford papers, MS.000643


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Letter, Natsuni Tomita to Hazel Retherford, Hazel Retherford papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


Use and reproduction of images held by the Arkansas State Archives without prior written permission is prohibited. For information on reproducing images held by the Arkansas State Archives, please call 501-682-6900 or email at


United States History


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Additional Content

Amon Guy Thompson papers, MG04582-MG04586; Austin Smith papers, 1942-1945, MG04350; Beauty Behind Barbed Wire: The Arts of the Japanese in Our War Relocation Camps, MG01299; Community Analysis Reports and Community Analysis Trend Reports of the War Relocation Authority, 1942-1946, MG03846-MG03847; Japanese Camp papers, MG03848-MG03869



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Letter, Natsuni Tomita to Hazel Retherford